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France boss Deschamps expecting respectful fight against Belgium

semi final france vs belgium
Belgium were knocked out of the 2018 World Cup by eventual champions France in the semi-finals and Thursday's game will be their first encounter since then

France coach Didier Deschamps is expecting a ‘fight’ against Belgium in their Nations League semi-final clash on Thursday but insisted that both sides respected each other.

The Belgians left the 2018 World Cup feeling they were the better team in the 1-0 semi-final defeat by eventual champions France and Thursday’s game in Turin will be their first encounter since then.

“It is going to be a fight, physically, technically and tactically,” Deschamps told a news conference.
“But there is enough respect between (Belgium coach) Roberto Martinez and me, and between the players.”

Deschamps added that the rivalry between the two nations was “sane”.
“It’s the same as with Italy or Spain, we share a border,” he explained.
“In 2018, like us they had the possibility to go to the (World Cup) final. They didn’t but Thursday’s game will not change anything.”

Deschamps is aware that Belgium will provide a tough test for France, who will be without their influential midfielder N’golo Kante as he has been isolating following a positive Covid-19 test.
“They are the number one nation in the Fifa rankings. They are well organised with young players who have been emerging and some players with more than 100 caps, very experienced,” he said.
“They have a solid defence and a lot of firepower up front.”

Deschamps said that the game would be “system against system” with the France coach looking to find the right “balance” against a team expected to play with a lone striker.
Belgium have not beaten France in a competitive game since a World Cup qualifier in 1981.

According to midfielder Axel Witsel, Belgium have not backed up their long-standing position at the top of the rankings with a major title but says success in this week’s Nations League final four would be validation of the country’s ‘golden generation’.

Players like goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and forwards Eden Hazard and Romeu Lukaku have been feted for their ability but they have fallen short of adding to their reputations with a title at international level.

However Witsel, also a prominent member of the golden generation with 116 caps, believes there is a chance to put that right this week.

“You cannot compare the Nations League with the European Championship or the World Cup, but it is a prize that four major countries are competing for. If we can win it, that would be a crowning achievement for this group,” Witsel told a news conference

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